A few weeks after the first collection of Psikyo shooters, here's the second one so let's get ready to shoot! No quarters necessary.
Just like Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha, Bravo consists of 6 classic games from Psikyo; 5 of which have already been released separately with the new one here being Samurai Aces III: Sengoku Cannon which I'll discuss in much more depth later. Also, every game here is a traditional shoot 'em up except for Gunbarich which is a quirky Breakout clone with pinball controls and nifty power-ups.
Considering I already reviewed 5 of these games already, I won't go into much detail about them here so please, read my full reviews if you'd like to learn more about them. In summary, Samurai Aces is a vertical shmup which is quite similar to the Strikers 1945 games although much simpler. Its sequel (Tengai) changed things up by offering horizontal gameplay yet it still remains a mostly basic shooter. Next, Gunbird is a classic character-driven shoot 'em up that's somewhat simple yet is bursting with charm and its sequel (Gunbird 2) is tied with Dragon Blaze as my favourite Psikyo shmup. It really went above and beyond the original to offer exciting new mechanics while being set in a crazy and colourful world filled with hilarious characters. Needless to say, it's the highlight of this package.Samurai Aces Review Tengai Review Gunbird Review Gunbird 2 Review Gunbarich Review
Samurai Aces III: Sengoku Cannon
Sengoku Cannon is an interesting game. For starters, it released in 2005 for PSP which makes it the only non-arcade game in this collection. To be frank, it's quite a disappointing shmup which is especially heartbreaking because I've been looking forward to playing it for a long time. Its graphics consist of dull 3D environments that rotate and zip by as you control a small sprite that shoots at a generic mix of 2D and 3D enemies. The gameplay is surprisingly barebones considering it released well after the first 2 Samurai Aces games as all you do is shoot while collecting power-ups that increase your firepower. Sure, there are 3 types of attacks including a focused one that slows you down and a cannon shot that turns bullets into coins but none of this comes across as fresh or exciting.
Don't get me wrong; I'm happy that such a rarity is finally available for modern consoles and it isn't a bad game. It's simply average and plays like a PS1 game that you'd find in the bargain bin then play every once in a while. If it featured detailed 2D visuals and clever gameplay mechanics then it would have been in-line with Psikyo's other shoot 'em ups but instead, it's one of those long-forgotten games that likely wouldn't have received praise even when it initially released back in the day.Samurai Aces III: Sengoku Cannon gameplay video →
Odds and ends
As with all of these Psikyo releases, Shooting Stars Bravo boasts a welcome amount of options yet it dismisses any sort of museum-style content which means that this collection is merely a menu where you can select from the 6 included games. Many retro fans (including me) have already purchased 5 of the included games so the fact that they're the exact same here is a tough pill to swallow, especially seeing as purchasing this package is the only way to play Samurai Aces III: Sengoku Cannon on Switch which is rather manipulative.
Finally, although not all of the games in Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo have aged well (particularly, the 3 Samurai Aces games), there's no denying just how much charm a lot of these games possess. Namely, the cast of characters in the Samurai Aces and Gunbird games are extremely memorable with their distinct personalities, appealing artwork, and ridiculous lines of dialogue. In other words, even though these aren't the best shmups ever released, they'll certainly tickle your funny bone and their characters are sure to delight.
In terms of the quality of its games, Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo is a slight notch below Alpha but it's still great to have 6 classic titles in 1 convenient collection. It's just too bad that it's missing any supplementary content.
- + Contains 5 classic Psikyo shooters with 1 cool Breakout / pinball hybrid
- + Sengoku Cannon is finally available
- + Plenty of memorable characters to play as
- - Again, 5 of these games were released on Switch already and haven't changed
- - Still no museum-style content
- - Not every game aged well